New tests will identify positive tuberculosis (TB) over time

The tests are now planned in laboratories throughout the United Kingdom are distributed during the next year to assess further evidence against those who are currently in use and further research is looking at streamlining the process is also necessary.“Reducing the wait for test results and diagnosis of a patient immediately will certainly benefit the way in which tuberculosis is treated in the United Kingdom. It is a pioneering research and we welcome the results of studies in the future it is hoped distribution of a new test that will have an impact on the incidence of infections, not only in the UK but the world. ”

Scientists at the Health Protection Agency has developed a new test that will identify positive (TB) in an hour, according to findings presented at the annual meeting of the HPA – Health Protection 2010 – University of Warwick today.

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused primarily by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Symptoms of infection include:

“We are pleased to have developed this new test, because it means we are potentially able to diagnose someone with tuberculosis in a clinic in one hour and immediately begin the treatment they need. This new test could really have an impact where it is needed more.

“More than two thirds of TB infections in the UK are not British-born residents and other hard to reach groups in urban areas. Some of these groups of people affected by TB patients include the homeless and transient-born in the United Kingdom who travel frequently between countries, potentially interrupting the treatment. This, combined with the current waiting time for a diagnosis can influence the outcome of a patient’s health and increase the risk of further transmission of infection. ”

The standard identification tests for TB can take up to eight weeks to grow and identify bacteria. Other rapid tests currently available molecular targets of a particular element (named IS6110) which is normally present in the TB bacteria. However, research has shown that this element is sometimes present only in very small quantities or in some cases completely absent in some strains of tuberculosis that are currently in circulation. This has the effect of lowering the sensitivity of the test can be global.

To combat this problem, HPA scientists have now developed a new high-speed test that greatly increases the sensitivity of the test, to detect the presence of bacteria in a sample in an hour. The new technique is a simple test for the identification of the DNA molecule by using real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). PCR is a technique used in molecular biology to amplify copies of a piece of DNA and generate millions of copies of this particular sequence of DNA, which allows more DNA testing.

In 2008, the United Kingdom, 8655 cases of tuberculosis were reported. The main burden of the disease is concentrated in large urban areas with 39% of cases reported in London. Nearly three-quarters of cases continue to occur among those born outside the United Kingdom (72%) and 15-44 years (61%). Most patients not born in Britain have been diagnosed two years or more after entering the United Kingdom (77%).

For more information on TB in the annual report for 2009 and provisional data for 2009 please visit the HPA.

Study author Dr Cath Arnold, head of the HPA genomics services unit, said:

Early diagnosis of tuberculosis bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) is to ensure prompt treatment for patients and could significantly reduce the incidence and consequences of tuberculosis in the United Kingdom and the world if practiced universally.